Hello and welcome! This is my blog about cybertexts. Here I’ll be looking into all manners of cybertexts and I’ll be documenting some of my personal experiences with them. In this post I’ll be looking at the impact technology has had on communication and my own personal experience with it while growing up.
Although it doesn’t need to be said, technology has had an enormous impact on modern forms of communication. Being born in the early 90s, I had always grown up along-side new technologies that offered different forms of communication to the then-standard of telephone calls and letters, if you weren’t talking face to face that is. By the time I had learnt to write a letter, text messaging was apparently the thing our youth did to communicate. At which point I was too young to have my own mobile phone and could only marvel at the strange magic my older siblings and parents wielded, hoping one day I could too. Of course we didn’t have a PC at this point either, and we didn’t get one for a long time. Looking back on the experience I feel like I was stuck in an odd point of life, I was too young to appreciate the fun of letter writing, not old enough to wield my own magical text messaging device and didn’t even know any of my friend’s house phone numbers; I’d come to the decision that there wasn’t much point, since I’d see them at school the next day anyway. But by that logic I didn’t need text messaging either, which was right, I didn’t. Writing letters would have held some benefit at least, improving my squiggly wiggly hand writing.
Flash forward to being 14 and as luck would have it, I was in possession of a mobile phone and my house held a family computer. Finally, my adventure in communication technology could commence. The informalities of text messaging felt like a relief, it was a relaxed, private space where I could talk to my friends without restraint. No drawing attention from the public eye, no need to sugar coat words. Not that these things stopped my friends and myself acting goofy like the children we were. But the privacy of text messaging was comforting in itself.
Instant messaging actually pre-dates the internet; it was initially implemented on multi-user operating systems like Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS) during the mid-1960s. Despite that fact mind you, when I was first exposed to instant messaging it seemed like a radical new concept. My young and naïve mind could barely wrap itself around the idea of what was essentially real-time texting messaging that didn’t eat up all of the credit on my pay-as-you-go device. It was figuratively having my cake and eating it too, something that is almost always welcome in my books. It wasn’t long after the dive into instant messaging that I found out about video calling, another concept that I struggled to contain my excitement with at the time. The idea of being able to have a real time conversation, coupled with being able to see the face of the person I was talking with on screen was fascinating.
Jump to the present day and after some minor variations and stability fixes (especially video calling), the massive amount of pros to these communication technologies have become very clear. Think about the accessibility aspect, these communication technologies make it incredibly easy to keep in touch with friends, family and loved ones over long distance. Mass communication is something which has been made much easier as well, especially e-mails, with the ability to send out information to a large number of people. It also gives some people social relief, those who struggle in social situations feel more relaxed and find it easier to interact with others through electronic communication.
Of course there are quite a few cons as well, non-verbal communication for example. Facial expressions and body language make up a large part of communication and electronic communication technology (excluding video calls) don’t allow for this, leading to some messages being misinterpreted. A digital divide is also a con, not everybody has the same level of experience and knowledge of communication technology. My grandma, for instance, took a very long time to become competent with a computer compared to some other people I know. Then of course is the concept of laziness being tied to computers and communication technology, this however, is a very broad concept with a lot of study dedicated to it. Simply put, using communication technology to talk to someone in the same room as you is something I would class as lazy (unless the circumstances, whatever they may be, call for it.) I’ve only splashed the surface of a sea of possible pros and cons to electronic communication technologies and I would definitely recommend having a further look into them.
Generally I use electronic communication technologies more than traditional communication technologies; I’ve found it to be extremely convenient for keeping in touch with my family back home and my friends who are widespread across the country. That doesn’t mean we never write letters to each other though, we have done on occasion and it’s been very fun, but receiving a letter and hearing about events that would have taken between a few days to a couple of weeks ago, depending on the postal service, isn’t the most practical form of communication.
What experience have you had with electronic communication technologies? Have they impacted on the way you communicate with those close to you?